MAY 2008 Mission Update:

 

Motherís Day: 

France celebrates Motherís Day two weeks after the U.S. So, I got to have both this year.  My friend Sabrina brought some gifts that the Primary children had made for the Mothers, since I was in another branch that week.   She and my other friend Sarah gave me a gift of a new skirt, one white one and one pink one.  They have become dear friends and when we leave in four months, I will miss them.  Later, one of the older Primary boys Ryan, gave me a paper crown he had made, with my name on it.  What a sweet kid.  He is a new convert and joined with his mother recently.  He bore a sweet testimony the other day.  Quite an accomplishment for a 10 year old.

 

The best thing about Motherís Day is that I got to talk with all my children on the phone.  I talked with Earl and then Daniel, and they both sound good but busy as ever providing for their families.  Then, I spoke with Audra and Amber.  What wonderful daughters, as well as mothers they are.  They have all turned out to be the kind of people we wanted them to be, great people active in the Church, good parents and honorable citizens.  What better gift could a mother want?

 

Goodbye Elder Hooson:

One of our favorite missionaries is Elder Hooson.  He is English and is a little older than the other missionaries as he finished his degree before coming out.  He was a great help to us when we were first here.  He works hard and is very organized.  Besides that, he is a lot of fun and we will miss him.  He bought a diamond ring while here and when he finds the right girl, he intends to make good use of it.  He is a real planner.  He and his companion Elder Temarono from Tahiti, really made a difference in the French side of St. Martin.  The branch of Marigot, had not been growing and we were concerned.  When he was transferred in, he visited the many members and encouraged them to come back.  He found a building to meet in on their side of the island, and before long they had doubled and tripled plus,  their attendance.  Soon they will have a permanent building to meet in and it will continue to grow as it should.  A big thanks goes to Elder Hooson and we wish him the best in his life.

 

Other Visitors:

 

During this same time, we visited with the new branch president, President Dinane in Marigot, the French side of St. Martin.  He is very excited to be involved in getting this branch growing again, with reactivation and new members, plus a new building.  The building project is underway and they have found an older house that is in the center of town.  It looks like a small church.  We met with the owner lady and she is anxious to have it renovated and rented to the Church.  Elder Malmrose and some of the other leaders have reached an agreement with her and the work will begin immediately.  It will take a couple of months to complete, but during that time, they will meet in part of the building on Sundays. 

 

While visiting their branch, Pres. Dinane invited us to lunch after Church, as it was Motherís Day (French).  He had the missionaries over and the senior couple, The Platts, as well.  He lives right on the water and goes swimming almost every day all the way across from his house to the other side of the water.  You can see that it is a long way. This is also a beautiful island, with many flowers and blossoming trees (the orange flowering tree is called a Flamboyant of course). While we were there at Pres. Dinaneís, they held a planning meeting on the new building and the future of the Marigot branch.  It was a good day for all and we appreciated his hospitality.

 

Salt Lake City and Area Visitors:

 

We also had our Area President, President Mask, and his wife come to visit our island.  He came with our Mission President, President Robison and his wife, and Sister Dalton, the General President of the Young Women and Sister Matsumori, the 2nd Counselor of the General Primary, from Salt Lake City.  They couldnít stay long on this trip, but we really enjoyed them.  Sister Dalton and Sister Matsumori had a leadership training meeting before an evening meeting with all members.  They did a wonderful job teaching and meeting with the members.  We could see how much they enjoyed each other. 

Elder Mask also spoke with our members and also held a special meeting with our missionaries the next morning.  He is not only interesting, but inspiring and lots of fun to be with.  All the missionaries had a great time, as you can see from some of the pictures.

 

We had a few hours before our visitors had to leave for the airport, so we took them to our local Spice Market to do a little shopping.  Now that was fun, just to let them experience the local culture.  They had a wonderful time, and so did we.  What great people our leaders are and it is great to get to know them personally.

 

Temple Trip

Our friends the Bonbon family have been members of the Church for about a year.  They decided that they wanted to be sealed together, forever.  They wanted to go to the temple in Salt Lake City to have the ordinance performed.  We decided to meet them at the airport when they returned after their visit.  They were the happiest we have ever seen them.  They told us that they were thrilled with their experience and that it is a life changing one for them.   

 

Cousins Visit:

This was a special month for me, as my cousin Linda Leeper and one of her daughters, Sidney, came from Salt Lake City, to visit me.  We havenít had many days off for the past year, so we were glad to take a few days here and there, to be with them and to do some fun things as well.  Elder Malmrose told them that they could come to visit us, if Linda would bring her pictures of the dedication of the Ghana temple, which she attended.  We asked her to give two firesides, one here on Guadeloupe and one on the island of  St. Martin.  She did so, and what a sweet experience for us all.  The members in both places really enjoyed seeing the wonderful, faithful people in Africa accepting the Gospel and hearing Lindaís personal testimony.  We had a big turnout for the fireside in Guadeloupe.  It was held in French, of course, but our friend Sarah Naine translated for Lindaís presentation and it went very smoothly, even with the language barrier.  The Spirit was there and people felt it strongly.  On St. Martin it was in English, and one of the members by the name of David is from Ghana, spontaneously bore his testimony of what a blessing the temple is in his home country.  It encouraged them to think that someday we may have our own Temple here in the Caribbean.  We now have to go to Santa Domingo, but someday that will change. 

 

We had an enjoyable time visiting with the senior missionary couple, The Platts, on St. Martin.  These are some pics of their apartment and flowers in the neighborhood.  It is only a block from the church building, so that is nice for them.  St. Martin is a very touristy island with lots of good restaurants and things to do.  Linda and Sidney did a lot of swimming in the ocean.  We were able to do a little shopping at one of the outdoor markets.  Many of the vendors spoke English but were from the French side of the island.  I invited four of them to watch our church take shape in their downtown area and come to Church some time.  Maybe some day they will be driving down the street and notice our new sign and come in.  Who knows? 

 

Guadeloupe is more like France, with less Casinoís and touristy things, but still beautiful.  We also got some shopping in at the outdoor markets.  The fish is really fresh and they clean and sell them from the boats.  There is also produce as well as spices and lots of rum, of course.  Here are some pictures of our shopping time. Rum is made from sugar cane, so sorry to say, itís very popular here. The cloth that was brought into the islands was imported originally from England and Scotland, thus the traditional dresses, etc. are plaids in various colors.  Apparently, each plantation had its own designs and that has been passed down over the years.  Of course, we also have super markets with fresh fish as well as typical baked and canned goods and they are always busy.  When you buy produce, you have to have it weighed before you go to the check out stand.  They love standing in lines here.  It is a real mixture of the traditional and the European culture here.  Makes it very interesting.

 

Even with some negative cultural influences, the members of the Church on all the islands are wonderful and have strong testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is not always easy to live righteously with the culture of gambling, drinking, etc. but these people are strong and devoted to the Savior.  They are a spiritual people in many ways and we love being with them.

 

One of our best friends is Sabrina Bastien.  She is the Family History Director for our District.  She and Linda enjoyed sharing their mutual interest in FH.  She invited us all to her house for dinner.  It was enjoyable to be with her and her beautiful family.  You can tell what her kids like to do.  When Elder Malmrose was working on Sabrinaís new computer, they all had to watch what he was doing.

 

We were also able to do some swimming and picnicking at one of our local fresh water areas in the mountains.  The water was refreshingly cool. And the scenery was lovely with giant trees and beautiful bridges over the river and waterfalls.  This is one area we hold baptisms in.  Linda, of course, had to continue with her knitting hobby wherever she was.  The goat really was interested.

We took my cousins up to visit a beautiful area in the north part of our island called St. Francois.  We have a member friend who lives there in a condo. She let us use her pools as well as beach access to lovely, warm water.  You can see how hard Sidney was working.

 

Linda and Sidney love to swim.  We have wonderful beaches here, so they made good use of them here on Guadeloupe and on St. Martin.  The Branch President Carlus from Basse-Terre, met them and invited them to meet him later and go snorkeling on a nearby coral reef.  They really wanted to go, but I had not been snorkeling before so I was hesitant to go without Gerald.  He said he would go if I wanted him to, so we decided to accompany them on this outing.  It was soooo much fun.  He had a kayak and board, so he offered Sidney to paddle with him, while we softies took a short boat ride to the reef and then some people went scuba diving and we went snorkeling.  There were so many different kinds of fish and creatures of the ocean, that we couldnít believe that the time was up and we had to go back.  It was well worth the effort to go. 

 

He also took us to an old historical plantation factory where they processed sugar cane and made rum, etc.  That too was interesting, to imagine what it must have been like to work in these places in the heat of the weather and with the machines going, ugh.  Not a fun place to be.  I am reading the history of these islands and find it very interesting how the European countries fought over the lands and they changed ownership back and forth for many years.  At first, they brought in indentured servants, then when they didnít have enough, they brought in criminals from the jails of England, Scotland, etc.  When that wasnít enough for the sugar cane crop, they moved on to black slaves from Africa.  No wonder we have such a mixture of races here.  One nice thing we notice here, is that there is very little, if any, race prejudice.  People are judged on their behavior more than their race. We see people of every color from dark black, to all shades of brown and then of course white.  This is the way it should be.

 

The islands had many different types of iguanas, so we were able to get some pictures of some of them.  Apparently, they are good eating, NOT!

Thank you to Linda and Sidney, for making us take time to look at things a little differently and sharing some adventure time with us.  We loved having you visit and will long share these memories.

 

Sights of Guadeloupe